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Remembering Calvert’s World War I Dead

18 men, 11 white and seven black, will be honored together
      After four years, three months and one week of fighting, the Great War ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. November 11, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of that day: Armistice Day.
       Two million American men volunteered for service during that war; another 2.8 million were drafted. Among those were 315 Calvert Countians.
      "That’s quite a lot since it was a very small county at the time, with less than 10,000 total people of all ages,” says Joanie Kilmon, Calvert County librarian, historian and a member of the county’s Veteran’s Day committee.
       Eighteen men from Calvert County were among the more than 117,000 Americans who lost their lives in the War to End All Wars. Their memory endures in their names, engraved in brass in 1920. The eight-foot-tall brass-on-granite monument stands on the lawn of the county courthouse in Prince Frederick.
      In memory of the Calvert soldiers, Baltimore sculptor Edward Henry Berge, a student of Auguste Rodin, cast a female figure of Liberty dressed as a warrior, holding the two panels of an open doorway with the light of day rising behind her. The door, opened equally on both sides, bears these names:
George Armiger, Solomon Barnes, Alonza Brown, James Butler, Wallace Curtis, William T. Dorsey, Thornton Gormon, John Gross, Joseph S. Jones, Benjamin Kent, Arick L. Lore, William N. Marquess, Thomas J. Osborne, Reuben Pitcher, Murray A. Sherbert, Irving R. Stallings, Harry Sunderland, Charles W. Tongue.
          Their names will be again spoken by the living on Saturday, November 10, in a World War I Armistice commemoration.
        “We will read the names alphabetically,” Kilmon says. On the monument, the names are separated by race, the names of 11 white men on the left side and of seven black men on the right. 
        “The names may be separated,” Kilmon says, “but we choose to remember each individual sacrifice together.”
      The Naval Academy Brass Quintet will play, and family members will be recognized. 
       “We hope it is a somber and fitting tribute,” Kilmon says.
       One of those African Americans, Benjamin Kent, was the great-grandson of a slave belonging to James King. Michael Kent, his grandfather’s cousin, will represent him at the commemoration.
        “Our family stories have passed down from generation to generation,” says Kent, 61. “My father lived to be 100, and my mother was 98. There was one relative who made it to 107. Benjamin Kent would have probably lived to a ripe old age had he not been drafted.”
       Kent is president of the Calvert NAACP, which has joined with the Gray-Ray VFW Post 220 and seven local churches to assure the seven Calvert County African American soldiers their due — and overdue — in honor.
       “We’ve asked each church to adopt one of the soldiers,” Kent says. “And we’ve given each a proclamation to post in their places of worship to remember these men who served so honorably.”
       One of the soldiers, Private ­Alonza Brown, was awarded the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre from the French government and the Distinguished Service Medal from the United States Army. He was further honored in a tribute signed by the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners recognizing his “service and ultimate sacrifice in defending and protecting our freedoms.”
 
 
Sat. Nov. 10, 11am-noon, Calvert Library, Prince ­Frederick, free: www.calvertlibrary.info.